Q. I am a 45 year old woman and in excellent health, what is my risk of getting Alzheimer’s in my lifetime?

Good question. First we should start out by assuming you will have a life span of 85 years, which is reasonable according to the latest statistics. The odds of you or I or anyone else living to 85 years old getting Alzheimer’s has become much clearer in recent years. This is sort of a so-called bad news/good news answer. The not so good (or bad) news is that the odds are higher than previously thought. The good news is that there is a lot more that we can do to prevent it, even reverse some of the early symptoms than previously thought.

First, the odds of getting Alzheimer’s as you asked:

For women like yourself the risks start going up about the age of menopause. For men the risks start going up later around age 65, but their curve of increase is then steeper. By the time men and women are 85 years old, the odds of having Alzheimer’s are quite similar for both men and women.

The actual odds of risk of Alzheimer’s are as follows:

At the age of 65, 2% or one out of fifty will be given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s each year. By the age of 80, eight percent or one out of twelve are given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s each year. Since the incidence of death is actually relatively low in people with full blown Alzheimer’s, the percentage of the population at age 85 with Alzheimer’s is rising much quicker than the 8% diagnosed yearly. The most quoted and accepted percentage for the entire population at age 85 diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is about 42%. This would be your risk or anyone at age 85.

Were we to be in that 42%, in a 5-10 year period prior to the diagnosis of full blown Alzheimer’s, we would go through a cognitive decline with the loss of ability to cope with change and perform basic life functions as we previously knew them.

Now, enough of the scary stuff….what is the good news?

Alzheimer’s, at first thought to be almost entirely genetic and inevitable, is now thought to be no more than 1% genetic. hus Alzheimer’s has been shown to be preventable after all. It is tied to two medical phenomena which occur in our brain: plaque, similar to that which develops in the arteries, and loss of brain tissue similar to what occurs in muscle and bone as we age. If left untreated, the average person will lose 37% of his or her brain tissue by age 85. Through natural medicine, methods have developed over the past 30 years to treat and reverse arterial plaque and bone and muscle loss as we age. The changes in the brain associated with Alzheimers is addressed at San Francisco Preventive Medical Group.

That is the picture of your level of risk. The risk for anyone if they do nothing would be about 42%. Dramatically less when you take preventive steps now available. First step after reading this would be to become informed. Begin reading books on this subject. The book by V.Fortanasce, “The Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription” is an excellent start. Through personal family involvement with Alzheimer’s, Dr. Fortanasce has clearly seen the urgency of the situation in advance of his peers. Take notes and see where your risks are. Make an apointment with a medical professional like him or myself who has developed a particular interest in this field of Alzheimer’s disease prevention. Then you can systematically change your risk factors and develop an effective program of Anti-Alzheimer’s disease protection.

Dr. Paul Lynn, MD